If you need to consult a professional electrician or electrical contractor, ask the following questions to learn whether the individuals you're considering are fully qualified and likely to do reliable work at a reasonable price.
Not all states, counties or towns regulate or require licenses for electricians, but it's prudent to check first with your local building department. Also ask if electrical work in your municipality must adhere to standards established by the National Electrical Code.
The current National Electrical Code recommends a minimum 100-amp incoming electrical service. If your service panel provides less, it should be upgraded to this level or better to meet today's home requirements. Most new homes are wired with 200-amp service.
Ground-wiring protects a home and its occupants in case of an electrical fault, such as a short-circuit. But grounding also protects expensive electronic equipment like computers and many appliances. An electrician can quickly check and add grounding capacity if needed.
A home electrical system has these built-in safeguards to prevent electrical overload. Too much current causes the breakers to open automatically or the fuses to melt. When a circuit shuts down repeatedly, it's a warning that should not be ignored.
The National Electrical Code now requires extra protection for outlets in specific areas of the home, such as kitchens, baths, utility rooms, garages and outdoors. Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) which are identifiable by their TEST and RESET buttons are generally required in proximity to wet locations. If your wiring has not been upgraded with GFCIs you're not protected.
Electrical outlets, especially in older homes, are often spaced too far apart for modern living. This not only creates too much demand on too few outlets, it also poses a hazard when the extension cords are run under rugs and furniture.
Even permanent fixtures wear out or suffer the ravages of time. When rust appears on the metal service panel it often indicates a moisture problem or that deterioration has reached an advanced stage.
High-demand appliances such as air conditioners, clothes dryers, refrigerators and furnaces need extra power when they start up. This temporary current draw can be more than just a nuisance; it can damage sensitive equipment.
Loose or deteriorating electrical connections, such as the wiring junctions in switches and outlets, impede current flow and create resistance. This may create a dangerous condition that can result in shock or fire.